DESIGNS for a new pier, a ‘fairytale’ device to help people find their way through London’s streets and a new oratory have won Oxford students prestigious prizes.

Each year the Royal Institute of British Architects recognises three architecture students at Oxford Brookes University and awards them prizes for their designs.

Matt Sawyer, 22, who has just graduated from Brookes, delved into myths and fairytales for his Ariadne device, worn on an explorer’s arm and powered by a swinging pendulum.

As the wearer walks, the pendulum’s swing moves cogs and chains to force string through the device onto the streets.

Much like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumb trail, lost explorers can then follow the string to retrace their steps.

Mr Sawyer said he was “honoured” to receive the Leslie Jones Memorial Prize, for most progress in Building Construction. He said: “At school, I was interested in classical civilisations and I was always quite inspired by narratives in architecture.

“A lot of the buildings I have designed were conceptual but created from the idea of stories and this whole project was based around the idea of exploration.”

He is now working at Grimshaw Architects in London.

Yuting Cheng, 24, who lives in East Oxford, was praised for her “subversive” pier design for Canvey Island in Essex, after being allocated the site and asked to create a project for it.

She said: “My brief was developed from the local council’s mission statement which said things like creating community spirit, improving the economy and enhancing the character of Canvey Island.

“I tried to design something that would reflect that but also the actual services on a day-to-day level – banal things like community planters, hanging baskets and Christmas lights switch-ons.”

Her new pier would be made up of offices for Canvey Island Town Council, small timber pavilions resembling carnival floats, and would also act as a location for the annual carnival parade.

Miss Cheng said: “I was really happy to get the prize, it was nice to be acknowledged for the hard work I put in.”

She said studying architecture in Oxford was particularly inspiring.

She said: “It’s the contrast of traditional architecture and contemporary architecture that’s really interesting, and there are a lot of impressive new buildings like the Ashmolean Museum .”

She was awarded the RIBA South Prize, for the highest standard of overall excellence in the diploma course at the university.

First year student Feng Yang, 19, designed an oratory formed of a corridor of boxes suspended in the air, each providing a different sensory experience. The idea was that an autistic boy was the orator, so the sensory boxes could communicate on his behalf with other people and the landscape.

She received the RIBA Oxford Prize for the most progress in the first year of the degree course.